Oberlin College Receives National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant

August 17, 2022

Office of Communications

Aerial of Oberlin College Campus
Photo credit: William Bradford

Oberlin College is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2022-2023 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $9,400 will support a community reading program focusing on Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Oberlin was previously an NEA Big Read grantee in 2011.

“We are so excited for another chance to bring a program like this to our community,” said Eboni A. Johnson, outreach and programming librarian at Oberlin College. “This is a wonderful opportunity to spark community conversations, build new partnerships, and encourage everyone to incorporate arts and reading into their lives.”

“It is inspiring to see how NEA Big Read grantees like Oberlin College utilize these books as launchpads for their own programming, often creating opportunities for community conversations, new partnerships, and encouraging participants to incorporate art into their daily lives,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Programming in Oberlin is scheduled to begin in September 2022. It will include a public kick-off event, several small-group discussions, and other events centered on forms of artistic expression related to the theme(s) of the book.

Partners include the Oberlin College Libraries, the Oberlin Public Library, the Oberlin Heritage Center, the Friends of the Oberlin Public Library, and other community groups which are planning to host walks, book discussions, and creative activities centered on the themes of Homegoing.

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“All across America, in communities small and large, the NEA Big Read connects neighbors and inspires creativity,” said Torrie Allen, president and CEO of Arts Midwest. “We're excited to support grantees like Oberlin College as they bring the pages of these wonderful books to life through inventive programming.”

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 16 years, grantees have leveraged more than $56 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.

For more information contact Outreach & Programming Librarian Eboni A. Johnson at ejohnson@oberlin.edu or 440-775-5026.

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